Few phrases drive the egoic self bonkers as “all things work for good.” If it is true, then the ego is a liar and all our grief and guilt and fear is meaningless. We’ve been sold a bill of goods by a bad idea. You can try it if you like. Get good and quiet and then say firmly and with conviction that all things – without exception – work for the good. See what happens inside.
You might notice that you resist on some level and in some way. We should never underestimate our resistance to undoing the ego! Any idea that diminishes it or exposes it for a fraud is going to hit a wall sooner or later. The ego is not going to go quietly!
And yet, for all that, is there not also a sense in which we want it to be true? Even if we do feel somewhat sheepish saying so? Who wouldn’t want a world where goodness was sure to prevail? And wanting it, can’t we also try to make it a reality? Or at least try to live as if it is true? Ralph Waldo Emerson (in his essay War) taught that all things – be they battleships or pruning shears – begin as ideas. Can we have a thought of goodness and peace? Where will it lead us?
So much of our spiritual life boils down to our willingness to be transformed. That is often a trickier needle to thread than might appear at first blush. We can say that we’re willing but then as soon as some thought system comes along – A Course in Miracles, say – and happens to mention that all our perceptions of evil and woe and grief and so forth are just illusions and we go crazy. We get defensive and resistant. No no no, we argue. We already perceive correctly.
And yet we are always having to go deeper. We always have to intensify our willingness to go another step, drop down another level, push aside another veil. Where is our resistance coming from? Can we reach its center – get in touch with the guilt and the fear? The ego wants to keep our focus on the outside. It likes all the war. It likes starving children. It likes a degraded environment. But if we can tear our attention away and look closely at it – take Jesus by the hand and really look at what’s going on in our minds – then we are going to see that the world out there is a mirror of what is going on inside. And when that happens, it’s only a matter of time before we begin to ask ourselves if we can change our thoughts.
A Course in Miracles often insists – implicitly when not explicitly – that there is nothing to be done in the world. It’s not about changing our behavior in hopes of causing a better world to come into existence. It’s about changing our mind. It is a course that aims to train our minds to think differently – and not in the least about our minds themselves.
It is my experience – in this body, this way, at this time – and I am not the only one, that when we begin to accept this premise of the course and actually practice it, then we begin to realize a positive and powerful change. It is a change in vision and it is hard to explain precisely. That is because in part it happens outside of language – or before it. But in essence, we begin to see and have a direct experience of goodness. We begin to appreciate in a deep and natural way that things really do work together for good and that we are part of that working – without any effort at all! In fact, that effortlessness is part of what makes the goodness so good and so special. It is not about us – not at all! And yet we partake of it. We are informed by it. We are graced by it.
It’s not that coming to this place is easy – or that your first glance of it lasts forever. It’s a process. It’s a sort of spiritual shuffle – a few baby steps this way, a stumble that way. But gradually we begin to develop a faith that grounds us and walks us through whatever tempest – emotional or otherwise – seems to be blocking the way.
Remember: all ACIM aims to do is remove the blocks to our awareness of love. It simply helps us clear the channels through which the loving thoughts of God flow. And once we are in tune with them – attuned to them – then there is nothing but good. And the fact that we ever thought otherwise is hard to believe.